Workstation video card, choices? - please help

I am researching videocards for use in a new workstation. 90% of my time I work in Autocad and 3ds Max, which only need a good desktop card, but i may start working in Revit and Maya, which require a good workstation card.

I have been mainly focused on the Geforce 8800 GTS and the Radeon 3870, or if i can find the extra $250, the quadro fx1700.

I am most curious about softmodding the 3870 into a firestream 9170. I can't find enough information to know if this would be beneficial working in primarily in max/cad and occasionally in Revit.

I am not opposed to modifying to get the performance gain.

of the four options, which has the best performance/price in architectural applications.

money is always a concern, so the quadro would have to be fanatastic for me to spend $450 at the present time.
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  1. Forget about Quadro/FireGL. Gaming cards all the way.

    Currently you cant find any better than 3870. 3870x2 supposedly has 2x better performance, but I dont if this is true for 3ds Max as well. I do know that 3ds Max cannot utilize SLI/Crossfire, so it stands to reason that it shouldnt be able to utilize the x2 chips either.

    To see why professional cards are a waste of money, please view my post here:
  2. ^ Agreed.

    acob got everything right. 8800 is way better than most quadros since quadros are misbegotten relics from era when people had to use Maya for rigging and animating characters and openGL was light years ahead of its would-be-competitor- DirectX.

    This has changed, but people still use maya thinking that its better in something, and getting quadros thinking that openGL still means something in our 3d world.

    Truth is Both Maya and openGL are fossils living on the fame of what once was. (altho both are still more than capable to handle even todays tasks, but both have much better counterparts… so legacy is only valid reason one should be using them today)

    Back to graphic cards- DirectX is miles better than openGL and gaming cards ARE optimized to run it as fast as they can. 8800 IS the latest technology and is based on unified shader architecture. 8800gtx has 128 unified shader procesors. For those of you who this means nothing picture it like this:

    Qudro 5500 fx and quadros below it (it’s a messy linup but lets say its like this in general) are based on an ancient g70 chips that doesnt have unified processors.

    It has 24 pixel shader pipelines and 8 vertex processors.

    8800 has 128 unified processors. This means that it can have 128 vertex processors if you need them, or 128 pixel shaders, or anywhere in between the two. So if you were to need both equally you will have 64vertex and 64 shading processors.

    Take a breath, and compare that to puny 24 pixel and 8 vertex of previous generation.
    Now, lets look at the price:

    Quadro fx5500 costs ~2.400$. 8800GTX costs ~500$

    8800 would be better even if it didn’t have the unified stuff, but it does and that makes it sooooo much better than anything up until now that it just makes me laugh at anyone that still goes out and buys a quadro.

    To make matters worse (for nvidia) 8800s competitor 3870 from ATI has 320 unified processors. It has “only” 2.5x more processors, but it has (up to) 3x better vertex performance.

    8800 is better for games(and openGL DCC), due to it being optimized for age old and archaic logic. 3870 is better for us 3d content creators.

    3870 costs ~220$ and the fact is you CANT find a better graphic card on the planet for what we do.

    My suggestion to all of you who have quadros and don’t like your “maxtreeme” performance is to order yourself a 3870. If you could have afforded quadro, you should be able to afford an additional 220$. You can donate a quadro to a 3d school near you. They will be eternally grateful.

    The thing is, ANY professional card that comes out after “today” will have its advantage enforced through drivers, or they will have to be shut down permanently.

    The other possibility, although more logical is unlikely from todays pov. You know the saying “there’s a sucker born every minute”, and people that buy Macs are living proof of that.
    Any advantages that quadros once had is gone for over a year and half now. Up until now you could say that you didn’t know about this. After now… you’re being cheated by the graphic card manufacturers that confuse you with overinflated prices.

    Other possibility I see is that graphic cards get so powerful that they need more video ram to work better in DCC(case even today). They (video cards manufacturers) could give quadro line huge boosts in ram, while skimping on the gaming community. This, though unlikely today, might happen one day in future. Till than, stay clear of quadro line of cards or get your self a Mac and a “sucker” sticker while at it.


    generally a card with good GPU power and more than 256RAM will work very well.
  3. What's with opengl? Doesn't normal cards support opengl as well?
  4. dagger said:
    What's with opengl? Doesn't normal cards support opengl as well?

    They do. In fact they do it better than professional cards. If you read the thread i posted link to, you will find these scores:
    under SPECViewperf in 3ds Max in openGL:
    gforce 8800ultra gets 43.02
    gforce 8800gt gets 43.18
    quadro 5600fx gets 37.03
    quadro 4600fx gets 37.07

    The thing to keep in mind with openGL is that while all new cards support it, its outdated and slow; it offers no benefits and plenty of drawbacks compared to DirectX.

    Only reason to use openGL today is for legacy support and in non-windows environments that dont support DirectX (i.e. linux)
    Anonymous said:
    ^ Agreed. generally a card with good GPU power and more than 256RAM will work very well.

    Totally true. Graphic card are so powerful today that even midrange cards are more than capable for 90+% of the scenes you might be working on.

    Its games that need better cards today ;)
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